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Advice and information for garden centre professionals

MAY 2019


Chelsea Preview

gtn MAY 2019

Retail tips and ideas

Garden Re-Leaf

Advice and information for garden centre professionals

Dobbies CEO on becoming the biggest garden centre operator in the UK


THE TOP INTERVIEWS People in the news

All change at the top


All change at the top Next month Dobbies will become the biggest garden centre operator in the UK. CEO Graeme Jenkins tells GTN about his plans and long term aspriations.

Last month Dobbies moved to make the single biggest purchase in the large-scale sell off of Wyevale garden centres, buying up 31 stores. In so-doing it will leap-frog ahead of the Wyevale chain to become the biggest garden centre operator in the UK. On Good Friday, GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer got the chance to catch up with Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins. Top of the list of questions was how Graeme plans to make that number one spot a long-term success for the group. Graeme said: “On completion of the acquisitions we’ll have 69 gardens centres generating over £300 million of turnover. Compared to Wyevale at its peak, that’s half the complexity for the same turnover. “We will start completing on the first batch of the new centres on the 20th of May. We’re taking them in batches of five or six between then and the end of June.

2 May 2019

“Naturally, we’ve carefully chosen those additional centres, giving us almost two formats. We did have smaller centres that we’ve sold to Caulders, which was part of the plan to correctly size the estate. Then there are the outliers of the Woodcote Green and potentially Edinburgh stores, but beyond that there are two quite sensible store groupings, which will allow us to range carefully. It makes it easier for the guys in the support offices to get the right size of ranges and the right merchandising, because in lots of ways we’ll be replicating just two formats. With this approach we’ve simplified it in a way that should allow us to manage everything more effectively.” This philosophy is backed up by the longterm vision of owners Midlothian Capital Partners. Graeme explains: “Midlothian is a family office for a number of private


investors, and they are taking an incredibly long-term view on this business. The leads at Midlothian are also our non-exec directors and they regularly talk about this being a business that’s owned by their grandchildren and their great grandchildren. “There is no prescribed time limit on what happens to Dobbies. We have a clear strategy. We have carefully acquired some centres from Wyevale. Acquisitions in the future are absolutely still part of the plan. We do see an opportunity to consolidate within the sector and we’d very much like to be that lead consolidator. But there is nobody saying that we need to do x by y. It is about growing the business, offering the best possible service and products to the customers, working with suppliers as their preferred customer and having a team that is happy and engaged to work with Dobbies. “We are not in any way distracted by corporate deadlines. Do we choose to list the business again? Maybe, maybe not. That’s a decision we’ll take at the right time and evaluate it on the basis of how we are doing and where the market generally is. But there isn’t a deadline, which is a nice place to be. “We will be investing not just in acquisitions but also reinvesting in the existing estate. Our objective is to keep the business trading at a level that will allow us to reinvest in it, and to grow and improve for the long term. There isn’t any short term-ism in Dobbies, it is absolutely about the future.” As to current trading, ahead of what turned out to be a record-breaking Easter


A brief history of Dobbies & Wyevale sales and acquisitions 4Dobbies was a quoted company on the stock exchange from 1987 and at one point in 2007 was valued at £230m. 4Tesco bought 51.3% of the business for £156m in 2007, buying it completely during 2008. During the Tesco ownership new centres were built and opened, some right next to Tesco supermarkets and even a Dobbies coffee shop was opened at Tesco Xtra in Dundee. 4In 2016 Tesco decided to sell off Dobbies. Terra Firma, the owner of Wyevale Garden Centres, was thought to be the front runner, but in the end a consortium led by Midlothian Capital bought the business from Tesco for £217m. weekend, Graeme told us that the centres are looking pretty good: “At the absolute core of anything we do is listening to the customer. “All the changes we make in the existing Dobbies business, or to any of the new centres, will be driven by our customer listening groups and customer research. We are very much of the mantra that customers will tell you what they want. Customers will help us perform as the best possible garden centre if we listen to them; our part of the deal is to curate the ranges so they will be bought and enjoyed. Included in this package comes the service wrapper and everything else, but fundamentally at its core is that any changes are driven by customer feedback.” With 69 centres covering all parts of the UK, how will Dobbies cope with regional variations? “On the whole gardeners do end up wanting similar things wherever they are in the country. There may be a time difference as the season moves on and Scotland gets a bit warmer. But to be honest we see a bit of a difference but not a huge one. “If you look across our estate the demographic of the customer is quite broad. Unlike some other operators we have sizeable restaurants and internal retail space in addition to quite large plant areas, so we do attract a really broad customer base. Our ranges and pricing aim to offer something for all customers to aspire to, which they will want to buy and enjoy in their gardens. “Last year’s Mintel report revealed that the fastest growing group of gardening

4This was a blow for Terra Firma. The intended purchase was believed essential to support the group’s ambitions of achieving a £500m turnover target at Wyevale. 4In May 2018, Terra Firma began large-scale plans to sell all 145 Wyevale garden centres as part of the closure of its Terra Firma CapitaI Partners III fund. Dobbies bought six centres from Wyevale during the autumn of 2018. Last month they added another 31 centres to the shopping list. 4All transactions are due to complete by the end of June, when Dobbies will become the number one garden centre operator in the UK, with 69 centres. This is 10 ahead of Wyevale which has 59 still to sell.

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838 gardentradenews@tgcmc.co.uk www.gardentradenews.co.uk THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope neil.pope@tgcmc.co.uk Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt mike.wyatt@tgcmc.co.uk Director: Trevor Pfeiffer trevor.pfeiffer@tgcmc.co.uk Publisher: Mandy Davies mandy.davies@tgcmc.co.uk Advertising: Alan Burdon alan.burdon@tgcmc.co.uk Ben Greenwood ben.greenwood@tgcmc.co.uk HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Tel 01733 775700 or email subscriptions@gardentradenews.co.uk Subscription rates UK: £145 Subscription includes a password for full access to GTN Online plus a weekly copy of GTN Bestsellers

customers were millennials, who bring a very interesting opportunity for garden centres. It’s not necessarily a traditional customer base but it is absolutely key that we provide an attractive offer for them. If they are inspired by a product and believe it is good value, then they will keep coming back. “We’re seeing some really powerful stats from our Members’ Club at the moment. Along with a significant increase in the frequency of visits we’re also seeing customers spending a lot more. The customers who visit us just a few times a year and don’t spend much money are declining at a fairly fast rate. What we’re seeing now is the bigger basket and the more frequent visit growing really rather nicely. Continued on page 4


OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * www.gardentradenews.co.uk website * Weekly GTN Xtra and Pet Trade Xtra newsletters * Garden Radio * Official Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News Online – the only official guides to the garden industry’s leading annual trade show SMALL PRINT All material © Potting Shed Press 2019. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information contained in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the event of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cessation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

May 2019 3

INTERVIEW On head office, distribution and management structure Graeme explained: “We will move to a different regional structure to suit the larger group. We have a couple of people transferring across under TUPE at regional level from Wyevale. “There will be additional heads coming into the support office. We’re already well underway in recruiting them, and head office will stay in Edinburgh, which is the root of the business. “The way we currently operate our supply chain for particular areas of plants and gardening means it makes absolute sense to go direct to store. We do have quite a significant general merchandise business in gifting, home and food hall and we will look at what’s best from a supply chain point of view there. I think at some point we will look at centralizing more of it, working with our suppliers as we do so, but I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution. “Our suppliers are very important, so our other big mantra is that we want to be their preferred customer. We want to work with them to create a very strong relationship. Yes, we will end up becoming the biggest in the sector, but we have some great supplier

Where the Wyevale ‘Sale of the Century’ £s have come from... Purchaser Dobbies Still to be Sold Blue Diamond Developers Hilliers English Salvage BGCG Rochmills Group Otter Nurseries Tates of Sussex In-Excess Cherry Lane Grovewell Homeleigh Perrywood St Johns Kings Exmouth AWBS Higgins Building Supplies Rosebourne

Offers based on £230,900,000 £91,550,000 £36,600,000 £35,300,000 £8,300,000 £8,000,000 £7,950,000 £6,500,000 £5,900,000 £5,200,000 £4,600,000 £1,200,000 £1,000,000 £1,000,000 £1,000,000 £1,000,000 £900,000 £800,000

% share 51.5% 20.4% 8.2% 7.9% 1.8% 1.8% 1.8% 1.4% 1.3% 1.2% 1.0% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2%





Spend on Wyevale Garden Centres as at 24-4-19, based on Christies’ ‘Offers based on’ figures published in May 2018

relationships at the moment and those will continue to evolve. Then there are suppliers we don’t work with currently, but we are open minded about the future. Regardless of who the supplier is, we want to be their preferred customer and it just so happens that we are the biggest operator. The most important point is being that preferred customer. “Our online business, using Ocado technology, is still heavily driven by outdoor furniture and barbecue sales. However, as we’re putting up a more comprehensive plants, gardening and home offer – currently around 12,000 sku’s – we are seeing pretty good pick up. It’s early days and small numbers but I’m pretty excited about it. “Peterborough is one of the stores where we’ve invested in the food hall and we call it a store of the future. We’ve upgraded our home offer and our food hall and some other areas. While part of Wyevale, Woodcote Green in Surrey was not integrated into the full Wyevale business, but it will become a part of the overall Dobbies brand. “Phil and John who run Woodcote Green have done an amazing job over the last couple of years. There’s lots of things we can learn from the guys at Woodcote Green and we will. They do have their own small head office function there because they weren’t integrated into Wyevale and the interaction between the teams has been great, but they want to be part of Dobbies. They see the opportunity to grow Woodcote Green as best facilitated by being part of something bigger.

Leading garden centre groups by number of outlets May 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6= 6= 8 9 10

June 2018 2 1 4 3 5 7= 10 6 7= 9



Dobbies Wyevale Garden Centres Blue Diamond Klondyke Notcutts Hilliers British Garden Centres Squires Cherry Lane Hillview

69 59 30 22 18 16 16 15 13 8

Change since June 2018 35 -86 9 0 0 4 6 0 1 -3

Source GTN – updated 23-4-19, includes transactions in progress

4 May 2019


“Woodcote Green is in a brilliant location, there’s lots of opportunity to expand the offer at the right time. We don’t have a definitive plan today but protecting the institution that is Woodcote Green is our priority. Ultimately it will be it will be part of the overall Dobbies brand.” Last month Dobbies Horticultural Director Marcus Eyles spoke at the GIMA Day Conference about garden decoration being important at Dobbies. Graeme explained further: “Garden decoration is definitely grounded in our research. We’ve taken a couple of trips to Europe and we’ve looked in particular at Germany and the Netherlands where there are some outstanding operators. If you look at what they are doing around garden decoration and how they’re bringing that offer together it is truly inspirational. “We try to be quite humble in our approach generally. We listen to our customers. We take action from what they say. It’s our job as a retailer to curate those ranges and get the best possible value in the best possible quality. That’s our job. But we do like to look, we do like to learn. “At the end of the day the two key indicators for us are footfall - which is up - and conversion - which is also is up - both in the restaurants and in retail. The Dobbies average transaction value is also on the rise. More people are coming. More people are shopping and those who shop are spending more. We’re seeing that across the existing estate as well as the centres we acquired last year.”





Tong Garden Centre has partnered with Leeds based garden designer and ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter, Katie Rushworth for a third consecutive year. Marketing manager Jo Dales said: “Katie will be giving her show garden a fresh new look with new planting themes and creative ways to make your outdoor space an extension of your home. She’ll be sharing her expertise in store with both events and plant guides as well as creating more engaging videos to help customers to make the most or their garden.”

Wyevale Garden Centres announced changes to its Garden Club loyalty scheme which saw the collection of loyalty points replaced with an instant discount every time members shop. The changes, which were introduced in time for the Easter bank holiday break, give customers an instant reward through a 5% discount at the till. The group says the new scheme represents the same value for customers, who previously collected 5 points per £1. For customers over 60, the rewards are even greater, with 10% discount, every Tuesday.



SOLEX will be opening its doors to the most influential buyers from within the garden industry on 9th July 2019. It will be packed full of the freshest designs from 60 LOFA members, with the full A-Z and everything in between that the outdoor and leisure industry has to offer. The exhibition SOLEX has two new features this year, a brand-new product area for Barbecues and Firepits and another one for Outdoor Living, which provides a sneak-peak at the new trends for 2020. There is also a contemporary new SOLEX lounge – a great place to relax, chill out and unwind, serving refreshments to all visitors throughout the three show days

Haskins Garden Centres has used part of a new £21.5 million finance facility from HSBC UK to undergo a complete redevelopment of one of its four sites. Haskins has used £14 million of the package to re-build its Snowhill garden centre in West Sussex. The new site will include a 127,000 sq. ft. purpose-built retail shop and outdoor garden centre, a 440-seat self-service restaurant and car parking for 346 cars. Phase one of the Snowhill centre’s redevelopment plan has now been completed, including the erection of a new temporary building.


Neudorff has expanded its team with the addition of office administrator, Sally Rogers. With previous experience working as a quality assurance coach at a major blue chip company, Sally will be responsible for ensuring that Neudorff’s UK operation runs as smoothly as possible, handling trade and consumer enquiries and managing orders.

Zest 4 Leisure has announced a number of senior level appointments. Paul Booth, the Operations Manager, has over 30 years of experience working in global companies within the warehousing, distribution and manufacturing industries. Another recent appointment is Jennifer Allen, the Logistics/Systems Improvement Co-ordinator.

Harriet Andrews has joined one of the largest, family-run wholesale nurseries in the UK as a Sales Trainee. Harriet is currently developing her knowledge of the stock at Wyevale Nurseries.

The continued success and popularity of SafeLawn has seen Westland’s Lawnman returning to TV for the third year running as part of an extensive campaign to promote SafeLawn and drive the lawncare sector. Since its launch just two years ago, SafeLawn has become a firmly established product in the lawncare sector, with retailers benefiting from the results and growth. The SafeLawn adverts are part of a £1.5 million campaign currently airing on TV.

Full versions of these reports first appeared in GTN Xtra, our weekly e-newsletter mailed direct to registered email addresses to keep readers in touch with industry news as it happens. To register, send your email address to: trevor.pfeiffer@tgcmc.co.uk and put ‘GTN Xtra’ in the subject line.

6 May 2019

People News


Perennial has appointed Phil Swainston as Corporate Development Manager to develop its partnerships within the industry. Phil joins Perennial from the HTA .


A Great All Year Round Sales Driver

Fountasia was founded in 1999 by Jim Weedon alongside his sons Michael and Paul. It was formed to service the giftware industry, as the family’s main business was manufacturing tin whistles, which dates back to 1843, and are still made in Tonbridge, Kent, today. In 2008 Michael took on sole ownership and focused on the garden centre gifting channel where he spent his time developing innovative products and travelling the country from Kent to Cornwall to Scotland, finding partners to retail his ranges.

Family Values Family values are vitally important with every member of the Fountasia family playing a vital role in ensuring continued growth with the service our customers expect.

Launched at Glee 2018 the new Fairy Kingdom range has proven extremely popular with consumers. Our next adventure launches in June 2019 with the new Pixie world.

Fountasia’s 3rd Generation Michael’s two eldest sons Nik and Khris Weedon become the 3rd generation to join the Fountasia family in sales and product development

“We would like to thank all our loyal customers who have supported us in recent years and look forward to many more years of partnership” www.gardentradenews.co.uk

For more information contact your Fountasia agent or email info@fountasia.com May 2019 7


Putting on a show The orchid and houseplant talks that Growth Technology present at garden centres are a great way of increasing sales of the company’s bestselling products. This month Manos Kanellos explains why they are so successful. How long has Growth Technology been in business? The company began by propagating exotic fruit plants in Australia and started trading in Britain over 30 years ago.

What was Growth Technology’s first product to be launched? Clonex Rooting Hormone, the first rooting gel on the market. It is now the market leader in three continents.

How long have you worked for the company? I have been with Growth Technology for over 12 years. I knew the founder from my previous role in commercial growing so when an opportunity arose to expand into the garden centre market it was an easy decision to make. What is your present role? I have overall responsibility for the Garden Centre market including the sales and marketing activities, as well as new product development. I also organise the orchid and houseplant events, and I am the main speaker.

What great merchandising techniques do you recommend garden centres to use to increase the sale of your products and therefore improve customer satisfaction? Placing products next to the plants always helps

8 May 2019

with sales. We have found that sales increase when we provide informative plant care leaflets in the same area as well. We also have a product stand with a TV that has 21 videos on a loop which include product information and helpful how-to guides.


How do you see the company developing? We are well-recognised in the houseplant area for the quality or our products, how well they sell, and how well we support the stockists. We will of course continue to do this and improve it further but our challenge is to expand into the main fertiliser area where we have some great products but they are less known, like our Organic Tomato Fertiliser. Has the uncertainty over Brexit caused you any problems? Not really. We have record sales so far this year with an increased rate of growth. This


is of course mainly due to the quality of our products and our service, but we think some stores are switching to British manufacturers such as ourselves. How long have you been organising orchid events and talks? Do you do any other talks? This is the tenth year for our orchid talks – we did our first in February 2009 – and the second year for houseplant talks. We also started doing terrarium workshops this year and we are planning on bonsai workshops in the future too. How many have you done and have planned for 2019? This has been a record year both in terms of booked events as well as attendances. Over 100 events have been booked so far for 2019 with more bookings expected in June when people start thinking about the autumn. Do you provide this service free of charge to garden centres? We would love to, but no. There is a contribution fee as we supply a lot of promotional material including an outdoor banner, and the events are designed to bring

people into the café/restaurant and sell orchids and other houseplants. Having said that our products do sell well on the day. What support do you give them prior to the event to ensure it is well attended? We always recommend ticketing the event, perhaps with the price of the ticket redeemable on purchases on the day, or including a free refreshment and cake. This way the garden centre knows how many people are coming and attendees are encouraged to spend on the day. What makes Growth Technology products the best (assuming they are, of course)? Of course they are! We simply don’t cut any corners, and we focus on the plant’s needs. For example, our nutrients do not contain any urea (a cheap synthetic form of nitrogen) and we fortify them with organic growth enhancers like seaweed, humic acid and fulvic acid where appropriate. When will the Growth Technology Orchid Focus Drip Feeder get to No 1 in the GTN Bestsellers chart? I reckon two more years. The feedback on the Orchid, Houseplant and Cactus Drip

Feeders has been great and sales keep increasing. Do you give talks to gardening societies as well as garden centres? Yes, I do talks on a freelance basis for a few garden centres that don’t currently stock our products, and some gardening clubs. I do it partly because I really enjoy doing the talks, and partly to promote my second book: Growing Orchids at Home. What has been the most asked question at your talks this year? Ha, the same as every year: “How often do I water my plant?” How big do you think Terrarium gardening will get this year? I have seen very few garden centres who do not stock any relevant products. I can see terrarium products in all garden centres and growing strongly over the next couple of years. And yes, we are looking to introduce a range of terrarium products. We understand your have appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe festival as a comedian called Manos The Greek – how does giving a talk in a garden centre compare with doing a stand-up show? Having the experience of handling audiences both large and small helps with my presentation skills. I certainly miss the social side of the Fringe and rubbing shoulders with some famous faces.

How does a garden centre go about arranging an event? That’s easy. All they have to do is contact the company, myself, or their local agent. For more details email gcsales@growthtechnology.com or visit www.focus-on-plants.com


May 2019 9


Six top tips for early-season retail success On its travels this month GTN discovered some great examples of retail magic being displayed throughout UK garden centres.



Serving up a sizzle They are taking BBQ sales seriously at the new Baytree of Hilgay Garden Centre situated on the A10 just south of Downham Market. They could have just relied on passing footfall on the way to the popular Barn Restaurant to sell their range of Grillstream BBQs, but leaving nothing to chance they also have live demonstrations out in the planteria every weekend. “In one weekend we sold six Grillstreams,” William Wallis told GTN, “and three of those were definitely as a result of Charlie’s BBQ cooking.”

10 May 2019


Grow house growth A much better March for young plant sales means there has also been a greater demand for grow houses. At Blue Diamond Bicester Avenue their grow house range (above) is the central attraction in the re-vamped gardening department that is already out-trading the same department at East Bridgford. At Hillier Botley they’ve been promoting the Veg Trug wooden-framed Grow House we first saw at Spoga+Gafa last year. At a £99 price point they hope to sell them as the season progresses but in the meantime they are emphasising the value of their other grow houses and making excellent POS displays for their tomato feed and tomato planter linked sales (pictured below).



Tree wrapping is not just for Christmas The planteria team at Hillier Botley really help their customers care for their tree purchases, not just for Christmas but all year long. They keep their Christmas tree wrapping stations out in the tree sales area to wrap any tree purchased to make it easier for transporting home.


Indoor planting moves towards Aquascaping As terrariums become popular again, keen and trendy houseplanters are starting to invest in Aquascaping. Whilst we’ve not yet seen a garden centre move into this sector as a bridge between plants and their aquatic fishkeeping areas, at Scotsdales they are using all sorts of glass containers and backdrops to set the scene and give their customers more ideas as to how to use houseplants as decorative items in the home.


Targeting a younger leisure audience At Forest Lodge in Farnham, where there are many big garden centres in the area, they have made a conscious decision to appeal to younger gardeners with their ranges of Life metal framed lounge style garden furniture. “It’s being bought by younger customers who want something more stylish in their garden than weave,” they told GTN. “The Timber set with the variable height table is already selling well.” Also, with the younger more eco conscious customer in mind Forest Lodge are selling an attractive range of bamboo outdoor tableware. That’s a real plus point for their eco credibility.


Don’t forget the children If it works for grown-ups then it will probably work even better for children. At Blue Diamond Bicester Avenue they have adapted the famous Blue Diamond Cake Mezze idea in their Play and Eat soft play area. As you can see from our photo – it’s really popular with only a few items left as the day comes to an end. What a great treat for the children while playing, and we bet the parents join in too!


May 2019 11


5 MINUTES WITH KIMBERLEY HORNBY Managing Director Hornby Whitefoot PR How did you start your career in PR? PR had been a long-held dream of mine, so when I was studying for my BA Hons in English Language and Literature at the University of Liverpool in 2002 I took it upon myself to get some work experience. Once I had completed my degree, I took up a job with a small boutique agency based in the heart of Liverpool city centre. Amazingly this was still a time of physically sending out press material – I spent many an hour sticking caption labels to the back of photos and stuffing envelopes. When did you take on your business? It’s hard for me to believe but Hornby Whitefoot PR will celebrate its fourth birthday this July. I remember the first day, and wondering how on earth I was going to make this work…but I did! I had a great teacher in the shape of Michelle Whitefoot. Many people will remember Michelle and Whitefoot PR, and I know that without her, her tutelage and amazing support during my seven years at Whitefoot PR I wouldn’t be where I am today. She believed in me, and handed me the next generation of the business upon her ‘retirement’. I hope I continue to make her proud! How many people do you employ? We have a core team of three – myself, Marc Rosenberg and Cassie King (Robbie Cumming is currently busy making a TV programme for the BBC!), with a great network of consultants who we pull in during peak season. We also have a brilliant partner network that enables us to offer additional tools for a full-service offering, including photography, graphic design, translation services etc.

What clients do you represent? Currently we represent a wide range of companies, covering almost all aspects of the garden retail sector, including Glee, GIMA, Woodlodge, Deco-Pak, Johnsons Lawn Seed, Sipcam (ecofective), Greenfingers (including Garden Re-Leaf Day), LifestyleGarden, Garden Connect, DJ Turfcare and Willow Wand. We have a selection of clients that come and go during peak periods of the year, especially around Glee for assistance with optimising pre-show coverage. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have some exciting new clients to announce shortly! What’s the most challenging part of the job? Finding enough hours in the day to get everything done! With so many clients the hardest part is ensuring that my ‘plates’ are all kept spinning, and that clients are getting the service they deserve. This means staying on top of everything from client news, updating strategy, keeping in touch with editors to ensure we’re optimising all editorial opportunities across both trade and consumer platforms, managing social media platforms, gathering coverage and analysing it to the n’th degree. We’re not an agency that uses the scattergun approach to PR, nor do we create one PR plan and refuse to step from the path this plan creates. We believe in strategy, but we also believe in being flexible, and will always be looking for new opportunities for our clients. And the most rewarding? Coverage is the reason why we do this, and I’ll never tire of seeing the end results of our work. Quite often we see publications full to the brim with Hornby Whitefoot PR news and that is always a highlight, and something I know my team take great pride in. I am also an event junkie, and love being onsite at events such as Glee, the GIMA Awards or Garden Re-Leaf Day. Seeing the industry come together to achieve a common goal, no matter what that might be, gives me a real high. I’m also incredibly lucky to work with some truly amazing people, so having the opportunity to catch up with them is also a great day at work. How important is it for your business to be viewed as being ‘part’ of the industry? For us, it’s less about importance, but more a matter of pride, and what it means for our clients. I’ve worked in a number of PR agencies and am very aware of why PR can have the reputation it has. However, through the work that we do with such a broad spectrum of clients – suppliers, retailers, charities, trade associations, exhibitions – we have been able to become part of the industry in which

12 April 2019


we work. In doing so, I believe we have demonstrated that PR is so much more than fluff and champagne. The value of being so ingrained in the industry is also vital to our clients. We have access to every corner of the market, and this enables us to better plan, understand the opportunities and challenges, and create content that offers real value for both our clients and the reader. What’s a typical working day look like? My job is famine or feast, so I’m either solely at my computer, or I’m on the road wondering if I’ll ever see my family again! A typical day involves an incredibly long to-do list which is normally thrown out of the window by 11am due to lastminute requests. It’s normally a case of writing press releases, interviews and special feature content. Social media analysis, management and monitoring take up a huge chunk of my day, as does media relations. There is also a smattering of admin, catching up with my team, and the tea run to finish things off! What role does PR play in today’s challenging business conditions? PR is all about creating stand-out, and in a saturated market stand-out can make all the difference. A commitment to PR and continuing to invest in it, is the hallmark of some of the biggest brands in the world. PR is also a vital tool in building brand awareness, and sharing and countering key messages about your business. PR provides businesses with a voice, and managed correctly it is a highly strategic and powerful tool. Allowing other people to talk about you and your business uncontrolled only starts rumours and falsities, potentially damaging your business for the long-term. In challenging conditions, this alone can mean the end of your business. Managing your messages, building positive news, demonstrating a commitment to your market, and being a voice of authority is all something that PR can achieve on your behalf. How much do you enjoy your job? I LOVE my job. Which is handy as I don’t think I could do anything else now! I love building content, thinking strategically, showcasing results, and getting clients involved in the PR process. I also love the fact that this industry is so friendly and inclusive.

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Hoses Hoses are an essential tool for any gardener – and as every gardener will know, hoses are about so much more than just transporting water from the tap to the nozzle. It’s important that they’re durable, flexible and most importantly securely connected. GARDENA’s range of tough durable hoses are frost and UV proof, made from a high quality spiral mesh textile material and offer outstanding warrantees up to 30 years! But if you’re looking for a hose to go the extra mile, the new GARDENA Liano range may just be perfect for you. Available in lengths from 10 to 30 meters, this robust and agile textile hose has been specially designed to keep up with you. Whether pulled through prickly rose bushes or twisted around corners, the hose will not tear, kink or twist. It is also extremely lightweight, making for easy transporting around the whole garden. Tested up to 35 bar, the GARDENA Liano Textile hose comes with an impressive 30 year warranty.

AquaRoll metal hose trolley

Hose guns The new GARDENA Comfort Cleaning Nozzle EcoPulse, is a patented cleaning jet that uses up to 40% less water, with improved cleaning performance on surfaces when compared to standard hard jets. Ideal for effectively cleaning intensive stains and loosening dirt, the Comfort Cleaning Nozzle EcoPulse offers 4 spray patterns: from soft spray to a hard jet, and like all GARDENA hose guns, it is frost and UV resistant and comes with a 5 year warranty.

The new AquaRoll metal hose trolley has all the features of the current range, like the patented Kick & Stand fold out foot for maximum stability, the angled hose connection for maximum water flow, the hose guide for effortless winding up after use and the anti-drip device ensuring leak free watering; but with the added benefit of a stable one-piece metal drum and metal foldable crank handle. Frost-proof and easy to use the AquaRoll Metal hose trolley is able to store up 100m of hose and also comes with a 5 year warranty.

To find out more about GARDENA’s range of clever watering solutions visit www.gardena.com/uk www.gardentradenews.co.uk

May 2019 13


Will future consumers be a zero-knowledge generation when it comes to gardening? Associate editor Mike Wyatt discusses how the garden industry needs to change in the face of a millennial generation demanding a different way of doing things. Listening to statisticians and data analysts can give watching paint dry a run for its money on the yawnometer but I have to confess that presentations at the recent GIMA day conference produced in me a buzzy mixture of fascination and dread. Phil Benton of Euromonitor was there to tell us about retail megatrends and Steve Collinge of Insight DIY about retail disruption. The thrust of both sessions was that, in the face of a millennial generation demanding a different way of doing things, we can no longer sit on our laurels and sing the same old song.

14 May 2019

“Change is the only option. You have to do it,” said Collinge. While Benton told us: “Millennials don’t read labels. They look things up on YouTube”. ‘Millennials’ were referenced frequently by both presenters. This is the label given to young adults reaching maturity in the early 21st century, having been born between 1981 and 1986…. ish. They are rapidly reaching prime spending potential and therefore considered key to future retail fortunes as my generation (quite old and then some) hovers on the brink of dotage. We are yesterday’s gardeners. The kids are the

future. Generation Z – those born from 1997 onwards – will be close on their heels, and, oh boy, you can expect more fireworks when they start exercising their power, especially if we haven’t solved climate change by then. The age when people pulled on their wellies, spread some muck on the garden and sang joyfully as they scattered seed is coming to a close. The Millennial lifestyle is changing everything and the garden industry will have to conform…won’t it? Euromonitor tells us that the home-dwellers of the future – owners or renters – will have limited opportunity for traditional gardening because of lack of outdoor space. Apparently, around a quarter of new homes don’t have a garden at all, presumably simple a meagre terrace or balcony. If they do develop an interesting gardening, it will be later in life, either because they are buying their own homes later, renting meanwhile. However, Benton and Collinge were in agreement that the outlook for the garden industry was positive, as long as it embraced change. Clearly, we’ll have to embrace Euromonitor’s view that sustainability in retailing and product development is a given, and any brand (retail or supplier) will have to demonstrate it. But the key driver will be how businesses adapt to the dramatic changes in the way consumers now shop – “shopping re-invented” as Euromonitor puts it. According to Insight DIY, the percentage of purchases made online in the UK is set to surge from its current 18% to 40% in the foreseeable future, with massive potential casualties among retailers who do not respond adequately. Collinge name-checked John Lewis department stores and


Wilko high street shops as business models that might need to transition within 10 years. Quite apart from these ‘channel shifts’ and the trends towards letting Alexa help make their purchases, there is the small matter of what millennials will want to buy. Yes, they will desire attractive homes and gardens, as long as you can get the fuss-free, convenient, stylish, eco-friendly ideas and products they’ve seen on Instagram and Pinterest into their hands, fast as soon as they want them. Benton quoted Click & Grow (https://eu.clickandgrow.com/) as an example of the garden supplier of the future – these so-called ‘Nespresso coffee machines for gardeners’ involve pre-sown pods in a heated and lit propagator that you just plug to grow your own herbs and edibles. Or how about the ‘Archibald’ augmented reality set-up from Connected Garden (www.connected-garden.com), which involves plugging a sensor into your garden soil and waiting for it to stream a report to your mobile phone 24 hours later confirming the nature of your soil and a list of the plants you can grow in it. No laborious learning required. So far, so fascinating. But this where my fear levels rise. With all the miracles of modern technology at their fingertips, will the consumers of the future be the zero-knowledge generation when it comes to gardening? The learning involved in gardening – how plants grow, their role in our wellbeing, their very essence in ensuring our survival – is a deeply spiritual pleasure as well as a necessary understanding of our ecosystem and what life on this planet should be all about. To my mind, the garden businesses of tomorrow will need to be great educators too.


Benaya Decorative Ceramic Tiles.

Light Glass Christmas Designs on lit display stands.

Birthstone Heart Stand.

The Milford Collection celebrate 35 years with acquisition of Animo Glass 2018/19 have seen some major changes at The Milford Collection with moving to a new 12,000 sq foot warehouse/office complex in their home town of Newtown, Wales, and setting up a new manufacturing unit in Norfolk to produce Animo Glass. The Company was established by David Blower in 1985 and has become a traditional family business with David as Managing Director, his Son John as Production Director and his Brother Selwyn as Finance Director. John joined the business after gaining a Degree at Aberystwyth University in Tourism and Business Management and Selwyn after taking early retirement from HSBC with thirty years at management level. 2007 saw the addition of Tim Halford who joined the Board as Chairman. Tim had gained extensive experience in Corporate Public relations having been Director of Group Public Affairs at Grand Met and later at Trafalgar House PLC. This broad depth of expertise and experience amongst the Directors has been a great help in the strategic planning and recent expansion of the Company.

Animo Glass.

New 12,000 sq foot Warehouse/Office in Wales. The acquisition of Animo Glass in 2018 has added an extra dimension to the Milford product range in so much that they have set up their own manufacturing unit in Norfolk and re-employed the former Production Manager at Animo Glass along with five other former employees. Between them they have a combined history of over 140 years of glass engraving which has been invaluable in helping Milford relaunch the Animo brand. The method used in the engraving process is by sand blasting using specially prepared stencils. This is an intricate process that produces the most detailed of designs so Milford have set up their own design and print studio within their new Norfolk facility. In addition to Animo, Milford distribute the Benaya range of Decorative Ceramic Tiles and mouth blown hanging Glass and Birthstone Hearts made in Poland from recycled glass. They also have their own stand alone facility in Wales where they fragrance and pack their Christmas Scented Pine Cones. The scented pine cones are proving to be one of the best selling Christmas lines


Sand blasting at Norfolk factory. regularly making the top ten in the GTN best selling Christmas gifts. For 2019 Milford have added a Cones & Berries and a Cones & Fruit bag which were both well received at the Harrogate Christmas Trade fair. David says that Milford are becoming one of the longest serving suppliers to the UK Gift and Garden centre market and with his son John taking over more of the everyday responsibility he would like to think that Milford will continue to be a trusted supplier to the UK Gift and Garden Centre industry for many more years to come. Tel: 01686 629919 Fax: 01686 623918 Email: john@milfordcollection.com Web: www.themilfordcollection.co.uk

May 2019 15


Easter sales bonanza Garden centre reaction

Andy Bunker, Alton Garden Centre: “Easter Monday was our best-ever plant department day by +11% – our last best was Whitsun 2017. Overall we have just come through our best-ever day by over 7% and over double on Easter last year.” Adam Wigglesworth, Aylett Nurseries: “Easter was the perfect weather for trade, which resulted in strong sales throughout the weekend. All areas performed very well, with garden furniture particularly strong. It is still too early to predict the end result of the critical March to June period of trade, especially as May and June were so good last year, but it has been a very encouraging season so far.”

16 May 2019


Nigel Wallis, Baytree Garden Centre: “It was a bonkers weekend! Furniture sales were amazing, and the plant sales incredible, and not just summer bedding. We only just kept up with getting customer trolleys back into the centre. I can’t believe how much compost has sold. Weekends like this just show what a great team we have at Baytree.” Julian Winfield, Haskins Garden Centres: “We had a record Easter weekend (Fri, Sat and Mon) although I still think the hot weather had a negative impact. Weather and a very late Easter helped so the sales needed to be good. If I exclude Snow Hill figures, where we are trading in a tent, April is +6.5% and YTD (March and April) +22%.”


Anthony Jones, Chief Operating Officer at Wyevale: “We are delighted to have enjoyed our best-ever Easter weekend with record breaking sales. Performance for the weekend was well over 100% up year-on-year and more than double our average Easter weekend takings. “We also significantly outperformed 2014 and 2017, when Easter fell in the same week. Customers snapped up plant ranges including early purchase of Summer bedding, in addition to a clear shift in to garden furniture and BBQ categories.”

Alan Roper, Blue Diamond MD: ‘Bank Holiday Monday appears to have broken records. The group, excluding ex-Wyevales, was up 4% during the week ending on Easter Sunday. There was a bandwidth of individual centre performances with that of 1% to 9% up. “Our ex-Wyevales were up 47%. Group up 14% overall. A number of centres have all reported record days, including £97k on Easter Monday at East Bridgford and £90k at Bicester Avenue, but a day does not a season make, never has, never will do. We have big months from last year to beat on the horizon. “Garden furniture was exactly 50% up for us in the week to Easter Sunday.” James Debbage, Green Pastures: “It was mental and it’s been a long time since I can remember an Easter anything like this one. And of course, having to close on such a fabulous Easter Sunday meant I had a really sick feeling all day which unfortunately was nothing to do with eating any eggs!” Boyd J Douglas-Davies, Hillview Garden Centres: “We had a fantastic weekend across all sites – it was a record for the group. Particular highlights were garden furniture, summer bedding, hardy plants, pots and composts. Chris Francis, Hillier Garden Centres: “We had 3 record days! “Plant sales were strong and furniture was outstanding too.”

Martin Breddy, Squires Garden Centres: “The three days of Easter trading were comfortably our best ever. Five of our centres – Twickenham, Hersham, Washington, Reigate and Chertsey – enjoyed their best ever day of trading over the Easter break. Plants and outdoor living were very strong. We’re in good shape. Maybe gardens offer people a good escape from the woes of Brexit?” Martin Stewart, Stewarts Garden Centres: “We had a great Easter – Broke loads of records and hope we made loads of visitors happy. The team played a blinder and the centres still looked ready for more on the Easter Monday evening. So far so good for the spring season of 2019!”

Graeme Jenkins, Dobbies CEO, reports a record Easter weekend for the group that will be come the biggest garden centre retailer in the UK when they complete the acquisition of another 31 centres from Wyevale in June. “Record sales for each individual day across the weekend, with Easter Monday being our biggest Easter weekend day ever. “Plants, gardening and outdoor furniture drove performance, all recording a best-ever Easter weekend. “Our outdoor furniture sales were three times higher than the previous Easter record.”


May 2019 17


Showcasing the best in plant retail The horticultural heart of the exhibition, Glee Plants, showcases an extensive range of plants, trees and shrubs from UK and international suppliers. To date a host of brands – of all sizes – have confirmed their presence at the September show (10-12, NEC Birmingham), bringing with them the best new plant varieties for the season ahead. Look out for key suppliers such as Laurica Plants, Javado, Florna Plants, Strawson Woodland, H.S Hommes & Sons, Key Essentials, Leybaert BVBA, and The Christmas Cabin. Together these brands – along with a host of yet to be confirmed names – will be showcasing an exciting mix of nursery stock, bedding plants, house plants, cut flowers, trees and shrubs, herbs and florist sundries. As always, Glee Plants will also be supported by Glee’s dedicated Green Heart, which places plants right at the entrance of the show to help inspire buyers the second they enter the exhibition. Working in partnership with Woodlodge – the Green Heart’s official merchandising bench supplier – this year Green Heart will be supported by the ‘Best Green Heart Display’ award. Launched to critical acclaim in 2018, the award was scooped by Golden Grove Nursery, receiving praise from the judges for its stand’s ease of translation into a retail environment, the quality of product, and the eye-catching POS and display ideas incorporated.

Closely tracking garden centre sales, the GTN Bestsellers report highlights a great start to the gardening season. 2019 quarter-one data shows plant volume sales up 34% YOY, and 4.7% on the strong 2017 season. Young vegetable sales in particular are thriving with volume sales up 50%. Tomato plants are currently the second biggest selling plant behind Primulas, with the Gardener’s Delight variety topping the tomato charts. In addition to plant sales, growing media sales, and that of pots and planters are also witnessing a positive YOY increase (Growing Media volumes up 30% on 2018, up 8% on 2017.) As consumers look to start their gardening journey through the year, these add-on sales opportunities are enjoying a great start. Additionally, these positive numbers also indicate a good gardening season to come as consumers look to see their gardening projects through to the end.

18 May 2019

Matthew Mein, Glee’s Event Director, said: “Plants, seeds and bulbs are the bread and butter of any garden retail offering. Appealing to consumers across all demographics, they are the lifeblood of any domestic garden, whether it be vegetables, herbs, shrubs or flowers. We are changing not only what we garden, but how we garden. This is reflected in latest market stats that show plant sales accounting for over £1.4billion of the total £5billion that the garden retail sector

is worth. Current forecasts highlight a strengthening of this, following strong first quarter sales. As a result, we believe that visitors to Glee Plants and Glee’s Green Heart later this year will be treated to not only the latest and most exciting plant innovations, but also have access to ranges that are proven sellers, helping to optimise sales throughout the season. It’s an exciting proposition.” 4To keep up-to-date on the latest Glee news visit www.gleebirmingham.com

GTN’s owners, Potting Shed Press, have signed a new agreement with ITE Events to publish the Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News until 2022 which will mark the 20th year that GTN have been the Official Media Partner for Glee. Above, Director Trevor Pfeiffer shakes hands with Event Director Matthew Mein.



May 2019 19


Getting ready for Chelsea The garden centre trade is busy getting ready for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which takes place on May 21-25. Here are some of the highlights that are bound to catch the eye. The world’s most famous flower show is back for another year, featuring cutting-edge garden design, fabulous shopping and plants from every corner of the globe. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments, runs from 21 to 25 May 2019 and will feature the very best that the gardening world has to offer, including the famous Great Pavilion at the heart of the show packed with specialist growers and nurseries. It wouldn’t be Chelsea without the supersleek gardens from internationally-renowned designers and 2019 is no exception. Top designer Andy Sturgeon will create a garden inspired by rock formations on an Australian beach in his design for M&G, while Mark Gregory has taken to the canals for inspiration for his Show Garden, Welcome to Yorkshire. His design consists of a towpath running alongside a canal lock (pictured). You can also expect to see designers tackling topical issues with their gardens in 2019. Sarah Eberle is exploring how forests are faring in the face of climate change with her design, The Resilience Garden, while Chris Beardshaw will consider sustainability and the potential of a circular economy in The Morgan Stanley Garden. The popular Artisan Gardens are also making a welcome return. These smaller spaces located in leafy Ranelagh Gardens offer thought-provoking designs that tell a story. Here, find gardens that raise awareness for donkeys, motor neurone disease and land-based education. Coming back to Chelsea for a second year are the Space to Grow Gardens. Featuring designs sponsored by the likes of CAMFED and Facebook, these gardens will show you how to create showstopping displays with limited space. Standing proud as the centrepiece of the show, the Great Pavilion houses specialist growers from across the UK, as well as nurseries from overseas who have travelled far and wide to attend the show. More than 80 exhibitors are lining up to create dazzling displays, with many regular favourites returning to the show, including David Austin Roses, The National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies and McBean’s Nursery. In 2019 you’ll be able to experience a walk-through judged garden in the Great Pavilion. The design, created by Tom Dixon and sponsored by IKEA, will be the first like it in the show’s history. The Chelsea Late is a unique opportunity to stay at the show, long after the crowds have dispersed. Indulge in botanical-inspired cocktails, relax to the sounds of cool jazz and explore the Ranelagh Gardens in a twilight setting.

20 May 2019

Back to nature garden The RHS Back to Nature Garden, designed by The Duchess of Cambridge and award-winning landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White of Davies White Landscape Architects, is based in a woodland setting as a space for families and communities to come together and connect with nature. Key elements of the garden include a crafted hollow log for children to climb through, a den, waterfall, stream and tree house. The tree house will form the centrepiece of the garden and will feature a swing seat hanging from the branches, creating a place for children and families to play together. The waterfall and stream will also encourage play – from floating Poohsticks and chasing them along the stream to making dams with stones and sand.

Tradestand focuses on personal wellbeing English greenhouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic is to showcase a wellness-focused tradestand at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year – demonstrating how a glasshouse can greatly extend the ways in which a garden can promote personal wellbeing. The tradestand has been designed by Tina Fraser of Valentine Wyatt Garden Design, landscaped by RHS Chelsea veterans Stewart Landscape Construction and will be dressed with furniture and accessories from carefully curated suppliers including Graham and Green and Stoake. Hartley Botanic’s 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show stand will feature four of the Lancashire manufacturer’s custom and handmade greenhouses and glasshouses. Each structure will be dressed to showcase a different wellness theme to reflect the multifunctional potential of a greenhouse and the different ways customers are customising their own.


Wild trees and shrubs combined with a cool, calm colour palette of green and blue provide an instant ‘nature fix’ to relax and calm, while the playful and diverse planting includes edibles, plants for craft activities and forest scents, ranging from tiny wild strawberries to magnificent trees. Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We couldn’t be happier with the wonderful design by The Duchess of Cambridge and Andree and Adam for our garden at Chelsea this year. “The RHS’s Garden is a beautiful natural space for families to get together, play, dig, grow plants, connect with nature and spend time in the great outdoors – something core to us as a charity to promote, inspire and encourage people to do.”


Greenfingers take centre stage with show display Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, Greenfingers Charity will have a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Greenfingers Charity Garden has been designed by Kate Gould, a regular at Chelsea, who has won many gold medals for her innovative designs. “Greenfingers Charity at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will present the charity with a great opportunity to highlight the difference its been making to hundreds of life limited children and their families every year, for the past 20 years, and at the same time attract new supporters. In turn, we hope this will help to ensure more Greenfingers Charity gardens will become a reality in 2019 and beyond,” said Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications. The Greenfingers Charity Garden has been described as follows: “A lush green garden provides a peaceful, interactive and uplifting space where life-limited children with complex needs, their families, friends and carers can come together for play, relaxation or peaceful reflection. Set over two levels, with a lift and sloped walkways, the Greenfingers Charity garden is an accessible space for people of all ages and abilities. “With its sensitive planting and magical water-feature, the innovative garden design aims to highlight and promote the therapeutic benefits of

the 56 outside spaces created over the past 20 years by Greenfingers Charity, the charity dedicated to creating inspiring gardens for life-limited children and their families who spend time in hospices across the UK.”

Blending contemporary with tradional Hillier Nurseries, the most successful exhibitor in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is exhibiting again this year. ‘The Stihl Hillier Garden’ blends together contemporary and traditional themes in this year’s design. The central element of the garden, alongside the thousands of beautiful quality plants, will be a striking water feature that will bring a feeling of calm and elegance to the garden. The garden will be sponsored by the worldfamous power tool manufacturer, STIHL. This is the second year Hillier and STIHL have partnered together for RHS Chelsea Flower Show, following the gold-medal winning ‘Stihl Inspiration’ by Hillier in 2018. Hillier holds the record for the most consecutive Chelsea gold medals and hopes the 2019 show will see it receiving its 74th. This year, Lilly Gomm has joined the Hillier team as designer, making her RHS Chelsea Flower Show design debut and she will be mentored by Sarah Eberle, Chelsea’s most decorated designer. Lilly’s passion for gardening started at a young age and, having studied architecture at the University of Brighton prior to her move

Lilly Gomm

into horticulture, she combines a love of plants with an interest in materials and hard landscaping. Lilly already has a string of medals under her belt, including a silver-gilt at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2018. Lilly said: “I feel incredibly privileged to be designing the Chelsea exhibit for Hillier this year. Their ethos towards encouraging future generations in the industry is admirable and something I am personally grateful for. I was

keen to create a design which is vibrant and interactive yet remained contemporary and I feel we have achieved this and more. With the knowledge and experience of Sarah Eberle as my mentor, alongside a confident team, I know we are going to showcase something beautiful for the visitors of the show.” With a fresh approach, Lilly has drawn upon a modern form set against planting that contains esteemed Hillier classics.

David Austin Roses is delighted to announce its attendance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019, showcasing two glorious new personalities from its English Rose collection, Eustacia Vye (Ausegdon) and Gabriel Oak (Auscrowd). Thomas Hardy fans will recognise the new roses bear the names of two beloved characters from the author’s classic novels, The Return of the Native (1878) and Far from the Madding Crowd (1874).


May 2019 21

RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW The Garden Superstore, sister company of Fargro Ltd, is to sponsor Hampshire Carnivorous Plants at RHS Chelsea Flower Show as the Winchester-based firm aims to win their 21st RHS Chelsea gold medal. Hampshire Carnivorous Plants has been growing carnivorous plants for 35 years and can boast the widest range of quality carnivorous plants available in the UK. The family company, led by owner and operator Matt Soper, grows an extensive range of carnivorous plants, including Venus Flytraps and Sarrancenias. The Hampshire Carnivorous plants display is always a popular attraction, and Matt has won more than 100 RHS gold medals, including 20 at RHS Chelsea, for his variety of natural born killers. This is in addition to winning best-in-show awards at Gardening Scotland, the Malvern Autumn Show and BBC Gardeners’ World Live.

Three new plant varieties Making their debut at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 are three new plant varieties introduced by Hillier Nurseries. The three new introductions are Weigela ‘Picobella Rosa’, Isoplexis isabelliana ‘Bella’ and Cordyline ‘Pink Star’, all of which add colour to any garden and require minimal maintenance.

Chelsea’s Choice

George Hillier, a member of the fifth generation of the family in the business and director of property, says: “Weigela ‘Picobella Rosa’ and Cordyline ‘Pink Star’ are absolutely stunning and these, allied with the orange hue of the Isoplexis ‘Bella’, create an inspirational pallete of contemporary new colours for gardens in 2019.”

Medwyn Williams set for Chelsea comeback One of the UK’s most renowned vegetable growers, and RHS Chelsea Flower Show veteran, Medwyn Williams is set to return this year with previously unseen varieties interspersed within his trademark pristine display of vegetables, including a yet to be named giant parsnip and a tomato which is the first vegetable to ever be registered in the Welsh language. After a nine year absence, the 11-time Gold winner will be creating his typically impressive display of high quality, beautiful vegetables which reflect his ethos of; “if you can’t eat it, don’t show it” by cultivating his plants to not only look fabulous but taste great using CANNA COCO nutrients and CANNA COCO Professional substrate, a sustainable growing medium benefitting from specially processed coconut husks.

22 May 2019


The RHS has announced the launch of a new limitededition vase from valued licensing partner Moorcroft, a renowned producer of heritage art pottery and a leading name in the world of ceramic design. The new vase, from celebrated Moorcroft designer Nicola Slaney, is called Chelsea’s Choice and celebrates the snow-white hydrangea that was awarded ‘Plant of the Year’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2018. Chelsea’s Choice launches at the 2019 show. The vase, seven inches high and three inches across at the base, is available in a limited edition of only 35 pieces. The bulbous vase is inspired by the shape of a bulb, complete with wide shoulders and body to hold the intricate detail of the award-winning hydrangea. With its graceful weeping foliage, the award-winning snow-white hydrangea that inspired Chelsea’s Choice lends itself to placement in more unusual situations such as hanging baskets and raised border edges as well as the more usual garden beds. White flowers, some with a faint pink and green tinge, appear from late spring into autumn. Nicola Slaney lifted the delicate lace cap white flowers and placed them onto an ink-coloured dark background for a dramatic contrast. Each of the 35 Chelsea’s Choice pieces will include Nicola Slaney’s designer monogram and full signature along with all Moorcroft backstamps of authenticity and the Royal Horticultural Society’s backstamp to show its official seal of approval.


May 2019 23

24 May 2019



Changing buying habits The GIMA AGM and Day Conference at Stratford-Upon-Avon, tackled everything from how consumers are changing the face of retailing, to the impact of technology upon purchasing decisions, the importance of inspiration, and how one retailer is forging ahead in this new retail landscape. GIMA’s Director Vicky Nuttall kicked off proceedings, updating the room with positive news, in that GIMA has witnessed its fifth year of member growth, with 171 brands now forming the membership roster. Vicky highlighted a great start to the year with events such as Glee at Spring Fair and the Garden Press Event. The association also has a number of key events upcoming, such as Buyer Connect (May 29th, and July 10th) as well as the Charity Day (June 6th) and annual GIMA Awards (July 4th). In his session Philip Benton (below left), Research Manager for Euromonitor International’s Home & Tech division, highlighted opportunities for growth through ‘megatrends’. According to Euromonitor’s data, key drivers for future growth of the garden market will be technology, the shifting economic power, population change, and environmental shifts, which Philip broke down into three megatrends. The first was ‘Ethical Living’ best summarised by more eco-conscious consumers, who will be focused on sustainability, veganism and the anti-plastic movement.

The next megatrend was ‘Shopping Reinvented’, which will span all phases of the shopping journey. This can relate to the way people source product, interact with brands post-purchase, smartphone payment, and even micro-retailing and subscription models. This megatrend highlights the importance of online shopping, which is expected to see 18% growth by 2023 (currently accounts for 13% of all gardening related purchases). The final megatrend Philip highlighted was ‘Hyperconnectivity’. As the UK is a key adopter of smart home technology, Euromonitor expect to see this continue through all aspects of the home and garden. Expect to see more robotics, click and grow options, and AR for the garden. Steve Collinge, MD of Insight Retail Group Ltd, and Executive Editor of Insight DIY, followed with a presentation entitled ‘The UK Gardening Industry – futureproof or ripe for disruption?’. Opening the session Steve mentioned that the sector is not ripe for disruption, but only because the disruption has already happened! Steve’s session focused on why the UK high street has suffered so many casualties in recent years, and what we can expect to happen in the next five-10 years, particularly in regards to intensifying competition amongst discounters, grocers and Amazon. But it certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom.


Retailers who are willing to adapt and create a retail experience that appeals to a new range of consumers will thrive. Key drivers for success will be ensuring inspiration is front and centre – from aspirational instore displays, to utilising the power of social media to ensure the millennial market is catered for. The shopping experience is vital, and needs to optimise both online and bricks and mortar retail environments. Retailers who get this right have the opportunity to take a slice of a fast growing market. Presentations were also given by GIMA Associate members, Phocas. The company’s Ed Smith (below right) explained how the company can assist with data management, streamlining processes for businesses. With 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years – and this has been true for last 30 years – Ed provided food for thought. Glee’s Marketing Manager, Luke Murphy, updated delegates on plans for Glee 2019. With 75% of the floorplan now sold, and expansion plans in place for the show’s Outdoor Entertaining, Retail Services, and Pets at Glee sectors, expect Glee 2019 to be another thriving event full of new product inspiration, networking opportunities, and educational content. Colin Wetherley-Mein provided an update on the Greenfingers Charity, which is currently busy preparing for its first ever show garden at RHS Chelsea. With the charity expecting to break ground on its 60th hospice garden within the next year, the team are also rallying the industry to raise much needed funds. Forthcoming sponsorship opportunities come in the shape of the Greenfingers Wing Walk, which will see GIMA’s very own Vicky Nuttall, along with two other brave souls, strap themselves to a bi-plane and take to the skies. The Monte Carlo Rally Challenge (leaving Glee on Thursday 12th September) is still looking for participants to join this fun challenge, whilst schemes such as Old into Gold, continues to deliver vital financial resources to the charity.

May 2019 25


‘Garden industry should be setting the trends, not social media’

Dobbies, now the UK’s biggest garden retailer with 69 outlets following the recent purchase of 31 from Wyevale Garden Centres, plans to put greater emphasis on plants and gardening, the group’s horticultural director has revealed. Speaking at the GIMA day conference, Horticultural Director Marcus Eyles told delegates that the newly-re-branded Dobbies was aiming for a three-way split with catering, plants and gardening and gifts/ other merchandise each accounting for a third of the business. He appealed to suppliers to work together with the group to provide innovation and new products to inspire contemporary consumers, especially millennials. Core millennials are defined by researchers as those born between 1981 and 1996.

He said the influence of social media was key in identifying products and services consumers now wanted – but the garden industry itself should be setting the trends, not social media. The emphsasis should be on ideas, inspiration and support, not hard work and boring jobs – an exciting

opportunity for retailers and suppliers working together and sharing information. Eyles is on a mission to significantly upgrade the Dobbies offer by Spring 2020 and confessed the timescale was a challenge for the business and its suppliers. He said he was aiming to have next year’s product range signed off during May and June and that Glee was too late to achieve change in time. He suggested the industry should do more to promote the potential of grow-your-own, house-plants, sleek garden decoration and outdoor maintenance products (like robotic mowers) that saved time and effort. He also said Dobbies would need more plants, and urged UK nurseries to consider upping production so it could continue to reduce reliance on imports from Europe.

GIMA announces new council members GIMA has announced the appointment of four new Council members following their appointment at the recent AGM – Guy Jenkins from DLF, Jenny Douthwaite from Primeur, Martin Tompsett from Rollins Tools and David Nicholson from Elho. During proceedings it was confirmed that both Richard Pyrah of Kelkay and Simon McArdle of Westland Horticulture would continue in their respective roles as President and Vice President for a second term. These latest appointments complete the GIMA Council for 2019/20 which is now at full strength with 12 members made up of the following:

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4Richard Pyrah, Kelkay - President 4Simon McArdle, Westland Horticulture – Vice President 4Chris Ramsden, Hozelock – Past President 4Craig Hall, Deco-Pak – Honorary Secretary 4Matt Jackson, Mr Fothergill’s Seeds 4Mark Butler, Vitax 4Neil Sims, The Evergreen Garden Care Company 4Dan Durston, Durston Garden Products 4Guy Jenkins, DLF 4Jenny Douthwaite, Primeur 4Martin Tompsett, Rollins Bulldog Tools 4David Nicholson, Elho Right: Jenny Douthwaite and Guy Jenkins.


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May 2019 27


Digging deep on Garden Re-Leaf Day

Garden Re-Leaf Day on Friday 22nd March was once again a success, as the garden industry and Greenfingers supporters came together to create a thriving day of activities and FUNdraising events. Whilst the final total is yet to be announced, it has been confirmed that over £50k has already been pledged. Head of Fundraising and Communications Linda Petrons said: “I cannot thank people enough for their ongoing support and dedication to making Garden Re-Leaf Day such a continued success. Early indications show that we are on track to raise in excess of £70,00 – a truly incredible achievement. “ I am endlessly touched by the generosity, creativity and selflessness that so many demonstrate, both on Garden Re-Leaf Day, and throughout the year. Every penny makes a huge difference to those that use Greenfingers funded-gardens, so on behalf of them, and my team, the biggest possible thank you.” The Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk Over 120 people from garden retailers, suppliers and manufacturers, along with teams from outside the garden industry, walked a sponsored 5, 10 or 20-mile circuit through the Buckinghamshire countryside on the annual Garden Re-Leaf Walk. Starting and ending at World’s End Garden Centre in Wendover – for the second year running – the participants were put through their paces on a walk through the beautiful Buckingham countryside. Teams from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, Vitax, Hozelock, Great British Cards, Elho, GIMA, HTA, DAC Ltd, Taylors Bulbs, Poplars Garden Centre, DLF Trifolium, Glee, Teleflex, Hornby Whitefoot PR and Kew Green Hotels donned their walking boots for the scenic route, taking in some stunning sights along the way.

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The Cycle Challenge This year saw the second Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge with int 29 intrepid bike enthusiasts donning their lycra before taking on the endurance test of 25, 50, 75 or 100 miles with Steve Burden, one of the industry’s best loved photographers the first across the finish line.

FUNdraising Days Across the country, garden centres, suppliers and friends of Greenfingers came together to create a vibrant day of FUNdraising. Haskins and Thurrock Garden Centre both held a special raffle for customers, whilst Ayletts held a special Goodwill Coffee Morning in its Dahlia Coffee House, where visitors enjoyed a hot drink and fun tombola to win prizes. CW Groves Nurseries also held a coffee morning, plus a special Gardeners Question Time for customers to learn more and get answers to their burning questions. The theme of quizzes and questions continued at the Old Railway Line and Poplars Garden Centre, with Curry & Quiz Nights, whilst over at Paradise Park, and Altons garden centres, customers were treated to a gardening quiz amongst other activities. Perrywood also hosted a sold-out quiz night. On the day Whitehall Garden Centres donated £1 from the sale of every hot drink and cupcake sold in the restaurant, with a donation of £1 for every planter also sold. A 50p donation from every coffee or tea sold was pledged by the team at Klondyke and Strikes Garden Centre.

The Blue Diamond team kindly confirmed that £5 from the sale of every Fryers ‘Friend’ rose – the Greenfingers Charity Rose - would be donated on the day, with £1 donated thereafter. Over at Coolings Nurseries a Behind-the Scene nursery tour took place, with donations from plant sales winging its way to Greenfingers. The team at the Garden Store/Hillview Garden Centres, went ‘green’ for the day, whilst Longacres held a sponsored Static Cyclotron at its Bagshot centre. On 23rd March the team at Rowan Garden Centre took inspiration from the Garden Re-Leaf walk and donned their walking boots for a special charity fundraising walk. Squires Garden Centres kept the momentum going with its Create and Grow Mother’s Day Planting Weekend, with donations from the event going straight to the Greenfingers charity. Another centre making the most of the Spring rush was Sunshine Garden Centre, which ran special Muddy Boots Gang Children’s activities throughout March. Each session cost £5, with all money raised being donated to Greenfingers.


Supplier support Leading supplier STIHL held a Garden Re-Leaf barbeque and car wash, whilst Rolawn Ltd hosted various events, including a ‘Mucky Dip’ and cake sale. Mr Fothergill’s smashed its £10,000 target with a range of activities including the Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge, and in-house static bike ride which saw the team stack up 167 miles between them. Other activities included a bake sale and the ‘mushy pea challenge’. The QVC family also continued its support throughout the Garden Re-Leaf weekend, with a £1.50 donation from every plant or product sold during a special Garden ReLeaf/ Greenfingers show. Presented by Richard Jackson and Simon Biagi, the weekend of programming attracts thousands of viewers, and more importantly, buyers. Finally, teams from Norton Park Hotel will be holding a summer fete in the hotel grounds on May 27th, with all donations going to the Greenfingers Charity. Elsewhere the amazingly supportive team from Kew Green Hotel’s Holiday Inn Chester South site, donned their walking boots to walk to the summit of Mount Snowdon, which stands at an impressive 1,085m.

Lakeside Garden Centre at Crockerton, Warminster, Fonthil Garden Centre, Bitton near Keynsham and Prior Park Garden Centre in Bath got together sponsoring Nick Morgan and Richard Cumming to make the trek to Prior Park.

May 2019 29


Impact of extreme weather on ponds Extreme summers and winters are becoming increasingly challenging for pond keepers. Dave Hulse, Technical Consultant at Tetra UK, offers advice on how retailers can help fishkeepers to cope with severe seasonal weather conditions. The summer of 2018 was a real scorcher. According to the Met Office, it was the joint hottest on record, shared with the infamous summer of 1976i. However, we should not confuse this extreme ‘weather’, (short term temperature, pressure, precipitation conditions), with ‘climate’ – the average of these values over a long period of time. There is no doubt that the climate of the UK is shifting. The Met Office reports that the Central England Temperature has risen by about a degree Celsius since 1980, with 2006 being the warmest year on recordii. How does pond water react to extreme seasonal weather changes? With the prevalence of warmer summers on the rise, pond keepers should consider the impact of this on their garden pond. Interestingly, a considerable amount of heat is required to raise the temperature of liquid water. In fact, the amount of energy required

30 May 2019

to increase the temperature of one gram of a substance by one degree Celsius is called the ‘specific heat capacity’, and water has the highest specific heat capacity of any commonly occurring substance, far higher than any metals for example. This high specific heat capacity of water is vital in biology; it means that water can buffer changes in air temperature. As such, on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK (when the mercury soared to 38.5˚C in Faversham in Kent) the temperature of lakes, ponds and rivers would not have risen equally high. Data on the average temperatures in these freshwater environments across the country would be rather meaningless as they are all so variable, however data from the Met Office for UK sea-surface temperatures reveals a rise of about 0.7˚C over the past three decades, and we can infer average freshwater temperatures are rising slightly too.


Pond keepers can test oxygen levels in their pond easily and precisely with Tetra’s Test O2 kits.

WATER GARDENING Hot summer weather: what challenges do pond keepers face? It is the extremes of weather than can be a problem for pond keepers. In the intense heat of a hot, dry summer, the main challenge for outdoor fish is meeting their oxygen demands. Warmer water can hold less oxygen, yet at higher temperatures the fish require more oxygen because their metabolic rate depends on the water temperature. As a result, in the summer months pond keepers must ensure they are aerating their ponds as much as possible, via fountains, waterfalls or with an air pump. Look out for signs of oxygen distress in your fish, such as gasping at the surface or hanging around filter outlets or waterfalls where the dissolved oxygen is marginally higher. With the help of Tetra’s Test O2 kits, pond keepers can test oxygen levels in their pond easily and precisely, allowing them to react before it gets too serious. It’s also worth mentioning that shallow ponds are much more susceptible to an increase in temperature in hot weather, with a subsequent drop in dissolved oxygen. A pond for goldfish should be at least 3 feet deep in places, for Koi carp, a 5 foot depth is a minimum. What’s more, do not rely on socalled ‘oxygenating weeds’, as these will add precious oxygen during the daylight hours, but this will cease at night. It is not only the pond fish that are susceptible to deoxygenation, the precious bacteria that colonise the biofilter, breaking down toxic waste ammonia into nitrate are also utterly dependent on dissolved oxygen.

With this in mind, the vigilant pond keeper should be testing ammonia and nitrate levels in the pond water frequently. The concentration of both should be zero, as any rise above this could be a symptom of these bacteria struggling due to a lack of oxygen. Tetra’s Pond FilterStart Bacteria can help ponds recovering from an oxygen shortage, as it combines two types of natural, highly active bacteria to promote optimal pond care. The solution is able to boost effective biological filtration and eliminate ammonia and nitrate, helping to replenish lost bacteria to restore biological balance in your garden pond. Combatting colder weather When considering climate change in the UK, we tend to focus on hot weather, but in fact the Met Office predicts that over the year, and on average, we will see more extreme weather events. Hot summers may be a more common feature, but there may also be extremes of precipitation or sudden extremes of cold weather in the winter months. For the pond keeper in winter this presents some very unique challenges. Oxygenation is rarely a problem for ponds in cold weather. In winter, the water is around 4˚C, and will hold much more dissolved oxygen than it could in the summer, yet the metabolic rate of fish has decreased so they require less oxygen. Any aerating devices still running are likely to cool the water too much for the fish, as they circulate the pond water in contact with the icy cold air. In winter, the pond water can be circulated near the surface, only minimising the contact

Tetra’s Pond FilterStart Bacteria can help ponds recovering from an oxygen shortage.

between water and air. Fish must still be monitored for signs of oxygen distress, but this is unlikely in winter, compared to high summer. In summary, the changing UK climate poses huge challenges for pond keepers. The unique properties of water mean that rapid profound changes in water temperature will not arise, however, sustained seasonal weather extremes should be on pond keepers’ radar. Looking out for signs of water deoxygenation in long bouts of dry, warm weather, as well as monitoring your pond’s aerating features during the colder months is advised, to ensure the water quality of your garden pond is not compromised, providing an optimum environment for your fish through the seasons. i

Met Office (August 2018)


Met Office (August 2018)

‘The changing UK climate poses huge challenges for pond keepers’ www.gardentradenews.co.uk

May 2019 31


Taylors celebrate 100 years with Daffodil Day More than 500 daffodil enthusiasts visited Taylors Bulbs in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, for their Daffodil Day to celebrate the centenary of the company. Organised in conjunction with the RHS Bulb Committee the event was probably the biggest gathering of people for a bulb event since the RHS Daffodil Exhibition at Chiswick in 1890. Speakers at the event included Brian Duncan and Christine Skelmersdale, who gave talks about the history of daffodils and ideas for using bulbs in the garden. The auditorium was packed for every session, and in the audience was Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for

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Rural Affairs and Bio Security. Notcutts Head of Horticulture Colin Dale said: “That has certainly given us plenty of inspiration to do more with bulbs in store this autumn.” The event was a huge success with many compliments being paid to the Taylors staff for their brilliant organisation, for their centenary, and for the opportunity to see and celebrate daffodils. Adam Taylor (right) said: “When we started planning for the day we thought 100 visitors would be good. To have more than 500 people here, all smiling and enjoying the wonderful daffodils is truly amazing.”


Profile for Garden Trade News

GTN May 2019  

GTN May 2019